I used to be a Daiwa extremist… saying: “Ahh! Shimano is a bike manufacturer !” But with all the hipe going on around the Shimano Curado, launched at ICAST last year, I just couldn’t resist. The movies, the pictures, all the great feedback, at a lower than 200$ price range, was more than enough to convince me. I was actually thinking about the JDM version of Curado, the improved, Scorpion 1001XT, but after analyzing in detail both models, I actually had to have the small sleek Curado E51 (you got me… I’m a lefty). I had to know what it punched at 199.99$, even though I got it cheaper . Of course I wanted a faster “finesse” reel than my actual Sol, which in many cases seemed to be slugish, especially when pooling fish out of dense structures.
|Shimano Curado E50 / E51|
|Reel type||Low profile baitcaster|
|Line Retrieve Per Crank||25″ (63 cm)|
|Line Capacity||10\105, 12\85, 14\70|
|Maximum Drag||4.5 kg (tested 3kg)|
|Bearings||5SS,1SA-RB + 1A-RB|
Design: The shape of the Curado is actually the exact same as the Core 51, and the Scorpion 1001XT, with the gearing sitting as low as possible, to get the reel profile height from the reel seat as low as it can actually go. I’m not that excited with the greenish color, but can overlook that in the end. It’s a color that really doesn’t match with almost anything out there in the rod industry, and I’d rather not have a rod specially designed (colorwise) for a certain reel, even though it’s a lot of fun.
I personally think a black handle would’ve made the reel look more appealing, but does that matter in the end?
The reel is also equipped with a clicking star-drag, that in this case is graphite. I really don’t worry about it’s durability, but would, as well as many, prefer something that felt more solid.
Feel: First impression sometimes count. The Curado as it turned out didn’t feel that sleek right out of the box. It didn’t feel as smoth-going as I thought it would feel, but this is a problem that got easily solved as soon as I’ve opened the reel up. The handle had a little bit of backplay, but after a good tightening (don’t be afraid to tighten it up a knotch) of the handle screw it got from some backplay to none.
As far as ergonomics go I’ve heard some people complain about the extrusion, that lets the spool side plate spin whenever you open it. It seems to incomodate some fishermen when fishing this reel. I couldn’t understand how, as my hand doesn’t touch that part at all, but than again, this might be because I’m a lefty, and don’t swipe the rod from a hand to another when casting. It seemed very confy for me. The Sol feels more comfortable though, but the Curado certainly is more robust.
Inside gears & durability: We’ve opened the reel up so you can see for yourself what you get from a under 200$ Japan made reel. Check out the video below:
I especially feel confident about the brass gearing, and would take any day of the year brass over any other light alloy in much lighter reels. What I must mention is it only has 1 SA-RB and 1 A-RB, and the rest are stainless steel, one of the reasons it’s so cost effective. That won’t be a big problem as long as you don’t do a lot of saltwater or brackish water fishing. I clean my reels thoroughly once a year, and other than that I just clean and lube my spool bearings for the rest of the year. It seems to do the trick, as I’ve seen no problems with my gear bearings after more than 9 months. If I ever see some rust going on inside there, I’ll go ahead and order a full set of corrosion resistant ball bearings, but I guess that will never happen.
All bearings are sealed in such a manner that you won’t be able to remove the shields in order to clean them thoroughly, unlike Daiwa’s bearings for e.g.
The frame, like the spool are aluminum, while the sideplates are graphite. That doesn’t seem to cause any problems, and it feels as sturdy today as it did when I first fished it.
I’ve burned, slow jigged, and even used the reel for crankbait and spinnerbait fishing during the last 9 months, and it still feels like new. No back-play, no nothing, and the anti-reverse ball bearing seems to keep up with my fishing. It makes me wonder what the…. with the anti-reverse pawl in this tiny baitcaster. It only worsens the reels action.
As you can see from the pictures, unlike the Core 51, the tension knob seats on a spring mechanism, and has no rubber band to protect water from sipping in that spot, in case your reel gets in contact with water somehow. That might ruin a good day fishing if it interacts with the oil or grease you are using. The spring has a double role: to keep some tension on the tension knob, so it doesn’t unscrew by itself, and to keep the spool ballbearing in place. I would’ve preferred the rubber-band myself, and never thought about looking at this detail before buying the reel. I’ve had nothing to worry about for now with or without the rubber collar, even though I’ve fished the reel in awful downpour. Lets just hope it’ll stay that way.
If the handle has zero backplay now, after tightening it up, the spool has some minor backplay to it. It makes it a bit nosier than the average guy, but as long as you have your line going through your guides, the tension in the line will keep it quiet.
As far as the drag goes, after tightening it up as much as I could, without the fear of breaking the stardrag, and it tested out at 3kg, a little under the 4.5kg expected.
Retrieve: As I’ve mentioned above. Right out of the box, the reel didn’t have that freespin, aerofeel, or whatever you want to call it feeling. It felt like the tension knob was a tad to tightened, even though it wasn’t. This is the best way I can describe it.
But as soon as I’ve opened the reel up, problem was solved. Even though Curado’s have instant antireverse gear blabbering, Shimano, for some reason, mounted the old antireverse pawl, found on older models. It beats me why they did this, but I instantly removed it from the reel, and the reel is now much smoother, and easygoing. No matter how enthusiastic I feel about this reel I won’t lie to you: there is a slight, but when i say slight, I mean extreamly slight feeling of the gearing being there, but it’s nothing that keeps me from fishing without noticing it.
The 7:1 gear ratio works just fine, especially when power fishing smaller baits, and really helps pooling those fish out of the brush.
Line lay: This is something you don’t really hear anyone mention about any reel. I consider this to be really important, especially when concerning spinning reels. I’ve seen so many expensive spinning reels that don’t spool the line as well as they should. I’t not a concern for the Curado though. It does the job extremely well.
Casting the Curado E51 is a lot of fun, and probably the easiest casting reel so far. It really doesn’t take that much fine-tuning as with Daiwas magnetic backlash control systems, even though it’s not externally controllable if you offset only 2 pins from the 6 Curado has you won’t be needing any other tuning, no matter the bait size. What I loved about this reel’s casting abilities is it takes almost zero time to get used with it, and it casts perfectly, cast after cast.
Flipping it into bush is a child’s play, even with weightless plastics. I’ve even managed to get it skipping under brush with the Lake Fork Magic Shad, without backlashing on a few occasions, pike fishing.
It casts everything from 3-4 g up to you name it. I’ve managed to get a good distance with both Rapala Original Floater 7, and 9cm and Rapala Team Esko, Balsa lures without any long casting balancing systems. I have a really hard time controlling backlashes for example on the Daiwa Sol with this baits, even with the ZPI SiC Ball Bearings.
|Curado E51 / E50 – Ratings (?/10)|
|Design||Great shape, but don’t really like the color. The ergonomics are good. Good handle length for its size, and a really good weight for a under 200$ reel.||7.5|
|Features||It has ball bearings in all the right places, even in the handle knobs. I really like the ability to be able to remove the knobs, in the event of exchanging them with others. Brass gears will last a lifetime. It’s the perfect caster, and the easiest casting reel to start with, if you’re a beginner. The drag doesn’t punch the 4.5kg advertised, at least not in my reel, but it’s stronger than many Daiwa’s out there.||8|
|Application / Performance||I’ve thrown everything to this reel, spinnedbaits, cranks, soft plastics, you name it… it takes the punishment, even if it’s this small. I’ve even hauled 2-3kg pike out of dense brush when spinnerbaiting at a tournament, right into the boat, and it still feels as connected as when I’ve received it. I don’t know how saltwater resistant it would be though.||9|
|Price||For what it’s worth I am a strong believer this is the best priced reel for the most of performance. Under 200$ and it’s small, extremely palmable, light, durable, with a sleek design. What more could you ask in a under 200$ reel?||10|
Conclusion: As far as I’m concerned Shimano has won me over with the new Curado, E Series, and can’t wait to see what they come up with next at ICAST in 2011. If you want to teach anyone baitcasting, Shimano Curado is definitely the easiest reel to teach some casting with, as I’ve learned teaching casting a few of my friends.